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Little fighter Boxer Kurt Walker almost missed out on Olympics due to daughter's illness

Doctors told the Lisburn couple their daughter only had hours to live but like her daddy, her determination, her strength and her fight is why she is here today.

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Ria Hanna with tot Layla who has had her own fight for life.

Ria Hanna with tot Layla who has had her own fight for life.

Ria Hanna with tot Layla who has had her own fight for life.

Olympian boxer Kurt Walker had one final thought this morning as he stepped into the ring.

He pictured his beautiful daughter Layla in his head, a fighter just like her dad, his inspiration to win.

Little Layla was born premature weighing just one pound eight ounces.

Doctors told the Lisburn couple their daughter only had hours to live but like her daddy, her determination, her strength and her fight is why she is here today.

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Baby Layla was given only hours to live but
dad Kurt Walker never gave up hope

Baby Layla was given only hours to live but dad Kurt Walker never gave up hope

Baby Layla was given only hours to live but dad Kurt Walker never gave up hope

As Kurt (26) prepared for his quarter final featherweight bout in Tokyo, partner Ria Hanna spoke to the Sunday World about the man who almost missed out on his Olympic dream as he cared for his then ill daughter.

"She was very premature, she was born at 26 weeks and she was only given a five per cent chance of survival.

"It was terrifying, she was born very small and had a haemorrhage of the lung. We were told they could only keep her on the ventilator for 12 hours or it would blow a hole in her lung. We got the priest in, got her christened but she just kept getting stronger and stronger.

"Kurt is very religious, I'm not but in dire moments you do pray. We did, and she just kept on getting better and better. Our prayers were answered."

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Irish boxer Kurt Walker.

Irish boxer Kurt Walker.

Irish boxer Kurt Walker.

Layla remained in hospital for three-and-a-half months.

"Kurt never left her side. Neither of us did, said Ria. "Kurt's training went out the window - we never even thought about it because all that was important was Layla.

"He didn't care, all he was dedicated to then was Layla and getting her better. The year 2020 was all about our daughter."

Kurt's fitness levels almost disappeared, Ria said.

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"He let himself go physically, he was eating badly, takeaways and all sorts of crap because we were just eating when we could grab, something quick and easy because we were always at the hospital.

"It was only when he knew Layla was okay that he decided to go back. He wanted to start earning and supporting his family and she gave him the strength and determination to do it," she added.

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